Can’t Say “No?”

n n n nI have a serious question. How can we expect children to say “no” when we as adults struggle to say it ourselves?

We see it everywhere. Parents caving in to their children’s wishes, even after they already said “no.” It might be a request to buy something or to get an ice cream before dinner or to go to a friend’s house. It’s just easier to give in than to turn down a child’s request because deep down most parents want their children to be happy, protected from life’s disappointments.

But here is the dilemma. How can children be prepared to say “no” to peer pressure, to difficult choices, and to experimentation, when what they see all around them are adults who cave into pressure, insistence, wining and their own need to be liked.

I grew up in a time when parents frequently said, “Do as I say, not as I do.” We all know that approach doesn’t work because children copy what is modeled for them. Especially when we tell them not to.

If the majority of the time children observe adults unable to say no……to little requests…to family members who take advantage, to a neighbor who always needs help,  to a committee asking for more volunteer time, then how in hell can those kids learn to say “no” for themselves? How can kids learn to be strong and resist peer pressure? How can they learn to honor their bodies, their time, and their feelings,….. if instead they see it’s easier to just give in?

Children repeat what they see, becoming “people-pleasers” and saying yes to fit in, to be liked, and to be popular. How can we blame them?  They are simply modeling what they saw.

That’s a scary thought.

That two-letter word some adults just can’t seem to spit out just creates children who will struggle with “no” as well.

Children face lots of tests in school, on the playground, with friends and on social media. To safely navigate their way through these challenges, they must be comfortable with the word no. It must be a normal part of life and part of their vocabulary.  We want children to say no to peer pressure, to drugs, to breaking rules, to activities that might put their well-being at risk, to being inappropriately touched.girl hand no

To do so, they must be empowered to stand up for themselves. But they won’t be as long as they don’t see, experience and observe that behavior. Learning to say “no” comes directly from hearing “no” as an answer ourselves.

Are you good at saying “no” when appropriate?

Do you turn down invites you don’t want to attend?

Do you say no to unreasonable requests?

Do you say no when it makes you unpopular?

Do you say no when it disappoints someone?

Whatever struggles you have saying no will show up in your kids.

It’s never too late to begin using this powerful two-letter word.

Children need to develop a strong sense of self, confidence, and comfort with the word “no” so that when the time comes, that little word will roll right off their lips.

Stay tuned for more on this two-letter word and how to get comfortable with it in upcoming blogs.

The Right Words to Turn Down a Reference Request

testimonials2

Just because you have been asked to provide a reference or testimonial,
doesn’t mean you are obligated.

Recently I’ve gotten numerous requests for testimonials and references.  Providing references is a great way to support those in our network. But suppose the reference request is from someone we hardly know? Or from an individual we never worked with, never purchased from?  What’s the right call then?

The answer is simple.

We tell them the truth.

We tell them we are not in a position to give what they are asking.

We remind them we have not worked together, or not worked together in years, so offering a testimonial feels out of sync.

We tell them we don’t know them well enough to speak to their strengths with confidence.

We wish them well.

It’s perfectly acceptable to not provide the reference. Opting out of such a request is always an option. The challenge is doing it honestly. Wording it well. Finding the way to say it.

Of course, saying “no” to a reference request might be slightly uncomfortable. Saying “no” usually is.  But it’s better than writing a testimonial we don’t feel comfortable giving.  To film a video testimonial, or write a letter of recommendation, or provide a verbal job reference that we can’t honestly stand behind, compromises our integrity.

And I am never never “for” that.  Saying yes when we want to say no is a people-pleasing act.  Helping is great. Supporting others is gracious, but doing so when it conflicts with our own feelings is a bad choice.

The question becomes how do we say “no” to a reference request?

 We start by:reference

 * Being truthful and genuine
* Saying it courteously and with kindness
*  Keeping  it simple, keeping it short
* Valuing our own integrity
* Not being overly apologetic  (Once will do)

 

As to the way to say it, here are some one line responses to graciously turn down a request for any kind of reference:

“You know, it’s been so long since we worked together that I can’t comfortably write you a reference.”

“Should we successfully work together in the future, I would gladly consider providing you with a reference then.  I’m sorry but till then, it’s premature.”

“I’m honored that you asked for my reference. Please know that I only provide references when I can really attest to someone’s work. I just don’t know you well enough.”

“I’m not in a position to really speak comfortably about your skills and attributes.”

“I wish I could help you out, but our working relationship is too new.”

“I’d love to see you get the job, but I won’t be able to help you with a job reference since I don’t know you in that capacity.”

These are just a few simple, honest ways to say “no” without offending the requester or looking unsupportive yourself.  You can always follow these statements with softeners like, “I’m sorry I can’t help you” or “I’m sure you understand” or even “I wish I knew you more. It’s just too soon.”

Occasionally someone will ask you to provide a testimonial anyway. Just remember, should they become pushy, it will be even more important for you to maintain your professionalism and obviously, NOT write the reference.

just say noIf you want to maintain the value of your opinion, your word, and your integrity, make it a personal rule:

Only give references for those people you feel certain about backing,

whether it’s for their skills, their character or their abilities.

Your references will carry so much more weight and substance when you do write them.